Hitachi GST: Terabytes for the Digital Home

February 16th, 2007 |
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What would you store if you could afford one terabyte — that’s 1,000 gigabytes — of hard disk space? In this podcast, Doug Pickford, director of product and market strategy for enterprise products with Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, talks with PodTech’s Catherine Girardeau about Hitachi GST’s industry milestone, the one-terabyte drive. The 7K1000 is the high-capacity storage Deskstar, or the high-capacity, high-definition TV Cinemastar.

This podcast was sponsored by Hitachi Global Storage Technologies.

Transcript:

Host: Catherine Girardeau – PodTech

Guest: Doug Pickford – Hitachi GST

Announcer

This Podcast was sponsored by Hitachi Global Storage Technologies.

Doug Pickford – Hitachi GST

There are so many things that we as a human race consider and can store as data. When there is one Terabyte of affordable space we will figure out how to store things.

Catherine Girardeau – PodTech

That is Doug Pickford, Director of Product and Market Strategy for Enterprise Products with Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. I spoke with Doug at Hitachi GST, San Jose Headquarters. Hitachi GST recently announced an industry milestone, a hard drive with a 1 Terabyte storage capacity, that is 1,000 Gigabytes. I asked Doug to help me understand just how much data could be stored on a Terabyte? This is Catherine Girardeau with PodTech.net.

Doug Pickford – Hitachi GST

Standard definition if we consider it to be two hours per movie, it can capture 500 movies. Beyond standard definition we move to high-definition, you can only store 125 HD movies, but then let us consider it maybe from a different angle, 300,000 digital photographs at highest quality, a million E-books or as another example 250,000 songs on your MP3 player.

Catherine Girardeau – PodTech

That would be a shuffle list that probably would not repeat very much?

Doug Pickford – Hitachi GST

Not too often, not too often.

Catherine Girardeau – PodTech

What is driving the need for this much storage?

Doug Pickford – Hitachi GST

The concept of having the digital home. Most people think that that is a concept that is far in the future. Reality, it is here today. Many, many people have DVRs, almost everyone has an MP3 player and most people have digital cameras. What we do not have is a topology and the methodology to manage it all. So, what will evolve is the centralized mechanism to control it all and at the center of however it turns out would be a very large hard disk drive.

Catherine Girardeau – PodTech

Then, I am sure the need would just continue. People will soon need two Terabytes, three Terabytes?

Doug Pickford – Hitachi GST

That is exactly right. There is a kind of an axiom in today’s society. Maybe it is economic driven, maybe it is behavior driven, but if you make something cheap enough to do, we will figure out how to do it and if storage on a Gigabyte basis is measured in tenths of the cent then I will store all sorts of stuff.

Catherine Girardeau – PodTech

So, tell me about the first of the Terabyte products you are launching, the Deskstar and Cinemastar. Who would want it? What does it do?

Doug Pickford – Hitachi GST

All right. First of the Deskstar, because we use the personal computer for a repository for a lot of our data, it is becoming more and more important to back that data up. So, the concept of personal external storage or a backup device that you connect to your personal computer is one of the first usage for the Deskstar 7K1000. They will probably also be pockets of high-end gamers that have the extreme PCs where a Terabyte of storage will be consumed quite easily.

So, they will also be attracted. The Cinemastar is really put together feature function wise to be most appropriate for that DVR or set-top box application where power, heat, acoustics, smooth data availability are all of key attributes and will be very distinguishing from the Deskstar version of the product.

Catherine Girardeau – PodTech

So, Doug I understand this is an industry first. How did Hitachi GST reach this milestone?

Doug Pickford – Hitachi GST

In reality, Hitachi GST reach this milestone by changing as well as not changing. Let me first start with the not changing. The product prior to the 7K1000 this one Terabyte drive that we are talking about was the 7K500, 500 Gigabytes just half of it. The mechanical engineering and design of that product was so solid, that we are able to reuse much of the work done at that level. Really the issue to get from 500 gigabytes to one terabyte was in specifically the areal density.

Catherine Girardeau – PodTech

Can you just give me a quick layperson’s definition of areal density?

Doug Pickford – Hitachi GST

Areal density is the product of how many tracks you lay on a disk and how tight you put bytes within that track, so it is the x times the y. To solve increased areal density requirements we moved from linear recording mechanisms to what is called a PMR Head or Perpendicular Magnetic Recording, both heads in disk. Through that technology advance we have been able to increase the areal density like I said to get from 500 to 1 Terabyte of storage.

Catherine Girardeau – PodTech

So, essentially you have found a way to compress that to fit more tracks in a same space.

Doug Pickford – Hitachi GST

That is exactly right, that is exactly right. One of the greatest games of perpendicular recording relative to linear recording is that the linear space or the space around the track that required to store bits is significantly smaller. We, Hitachi GST has a cute little cartoon where I think it is called ‘Get Perpendicular’ and basically the concept is, is that the linear bits or linear recording, the bits are lying down and then in perpendicular recording they are standing up. If I have to lay down a 100 people along the street, it is going to take a fair amount of space but if I stand them up and stand them next to each other, much less space.

Catherine Girardeau – PodTech

Can I think of this in terms of a three dimensional model?

Doug Pickford – Hitachi GST

You can not think of it in terms of the three dimensional model in that the Z axis or the third dimension is the number of clatters for the number of disks inside and the 7K1000 has five disks inside of it.

Catherine Girardeau – PodTech

As we talked, I began to wonder how much further the development of storage capacity could go. In computer chip design for example companies like Intel and Hewlett-Packard are pushing Moore’s Law or the principle that the number of transistors on a chip can be doubled every 24 months.

Is the same kind of thing operating in the storage industry where you are kind of pushing the limits of what is actually possible?

Doug Pickford – Hitachi GST

Well, it is interesting. It is a great question, we get back to this concept of areal density, which in semiconductor the measurement is transistors or transistors per centimeter square whereas in disk drives it is Gigabits per square inch or areal density and the industry over it is 50 plus years now of existence has gone through a number of hills and valleys on how steep that slope is for areal density improvements. Just within the last five, ten years we had a point time where areal density was doubling every year.

We have now kind of settled as an industry into a curve that has a slope of about 35% to 40% on an annual growth basis. To maintain that overtime, new technologies will have to be invented. The perpendicular magnetic recording technology that I spoke of is one of the technologies, which ought to carry as out to in the same form factor maybe a five Terabyte drive, but there will need to be another technology after that and after that. From a physics point of view we see that there is clear headlights out into at least a 50 Terabyte drive.

Catherine Girardeau – PodTech

But Pickford said it is not all clear headlights in terms of industry challenges and the competition.

Doug Pickford – Hitachi GST

There are many ways to store things, maybe optically maybe not, maybe magnetically. There are semi conductor storage out there. So, as hard disk drives enter into the consumer space in such an exploding manner we are competing with the — an entire new fill (ph) if you will, and that is alternate industries. Again as you go into consumer spaces, you are now competing with a lot of potentially different technologies to try to solve the same problem.

Catherine Girardeau – PodTech

Pickford refers to what he calls the enterprise storage hierarchy with the fastest, most expensive, highest performing disk drives at the top of the pyramid. In the middle are high capacity storage drives such as Hitachi GST 7K1000 and then at the bottom, he said, “Would be tape or optical drives for deep backup.”

Doug, you were talking about the hierarchy and I wanted to have you just expand on the relationship between flash and hard disks’ storage.

Doug Pickford – Hitachi GST

I think there is a fair amount of confusion around this relationship between flash and hard disk drive. Some might see it as a competition, as a fight to the death. In reality it is exactly the opposite, flash and hard disk drives are partners. Even if at the top layer of enterprise storage there is a flash component, there will still be the hard disk drive underneath it, maybe at an even broader and deeper range as a partner to that flash.

While it is true that for the smaller capacity devices flash is essentially the medium of choice now. The collection and management of that information that is running around on all these little devices is going to be put on the shoulders of the hard disk drive. So, that is going to be the collection point.

So, in reality the proliferation of flash devices is a stimulant for hard disk drives and I expect them to be happy and cooperating partners from (Inaudible) Eternity. I have a wife and two beautiful daughters each of which have their own MP3 players, their own playlist and they are constantly vying to swap this and that and we are having to chase things down and move things from computer A to computer B. I tried to imagine a world where I have a centralized device managing my pictures, my MP3, my video content and my daughter simply pugs into the USB port her little MP3, gets her uploads and off she goes so it can share easily, often and everybody is happy.

Catherine Girardeau – PodTech

That is the perfect vision from the digital home.

Doug Pickford – Hitachi GST

It is.

Catherine Girardeau – PodTech

Well, Doug Pickford, thank you so much for joining me on PodTech.net.

Doug Pickford – Hitachi GST

My pleasure.

Catherine Girardeau – PodTech

Doug Pickford is Director of Product and Market Strategy for Enterprise Products with Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. I spoke with him at Hitachi GST, San Jose Headquarters. For PodTech.net, I am Catherine Girardeau.

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